One of the lesser episodes that played during The Twilight Zone's first season. Richard Conte plays a man who has not allowed himself to sleep because he fears his dreams will kill him. The show is utterly ridiculous. The idea of a reoccurring character appearing in a man's dreams with the intent of killing him does have potential. However, this episode does not make the potential killer believable. We need a plausible motive for the killer or at least a psychological issue that the victim might cause such a condition. Furthermore, the guy falls for his killers murderous tricks way to easily. Overall, this is an idea with great potential that was not realized. I voted 4.5.
There's a lot to like in "Perchance to Dream." Richard Conte gives a great performance as a man scared out of his mind and the cinematography is fantastic, evoking a spooky, almost European influence on the dream scenes. But, unfortunately, the episode as a whole falls flat.
Maybe it's because we're rushed into the premise - it's all explained in a first act packed with exposition. We hear about Conte's childhood discovery of his very over-active imagination, but it doesn't resonate. Good as he is, Conte is still filling in background, and it's not very exciting.
The framing device of the shrink's office is interesting too, but it leads to a very static episode. And lastly, the "twist" is neat, but could have packed a much bigger punch if the set-up had been better planned.
Long before Freddy Krueger, The Twilight Zone brought us the beautiful, voluptuous, and deadly "Maya," a charactor in a man's dream determined to literally scare him to death. "Perchance to Dream" plays like a carnival dark ride, full of cheesey fun, nightmarish imagery, and low-rent thrills and chills. Richard Conte plays Edward Hall, a man terrified to fall asleep lest the exotically seductive Maya take him away in his dreams to a place that will cause his weak heart to fail. It's a story perfect for The Twilight Zone, helped by the series' low budget, black and white cinematography, and make-do special effects. It plays like German Expressionism done with a distinctly 1950's rural American vibe. Highly recommended!
I love episodes like Perchance to Dream where you are kind of left wondering what the story was really about. What did the nightmare mean? Why was the girl in the nightmare trying to kill him? And isn't strange how the receptionist looks exactly like the dream girl, Maya? And at the end it turns out that he died as soon as he fell asleep on the psychiatrists couch. But that is what is so great about the Twilight Zone it makes you wonder even after an episode has ended what was really going on, and what the whole story was really about.
One of the Zone's best, a sterling example of what this series was all about. "Perchance to Dream" plays like a little noir fable for television, pushed just over the edge of dreaming into the realm of nightmare and the supernatural. The minimalist sets are wonderfully claustrophobic, and that cat-eyed stripper Maya is one sexy tour guide to hell, laughing like a demon as she urges you to JUMP! Probably this episode has a special resonance for me because I used to work in Studio City, and the tricky switchback drive back to L.A. over Laurel Canyon every night was just as hairy as Richard Conte's character describes.
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